The Dallas Stars beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 in Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. With the opening contest in the books, the two teams will lock horns in Game 2 on Monday (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN: livestream).
[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Stars win Game 1 of 2020 Stanley Cup Final on the strength of strong second period
Both the Lightning and Stars got off to a pretty sleepy start to begin Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. Tampa Bay and Dallas combined for just nine shots on goal during the opening frame.
To start the scoring, Stars defenseman Joel Hanley scored his first career NHL goal — not just in the postseason, but regular season included. From there, Yanni Gourde received credit for a 1-1 goal that was a result of a series of bounces.
Considering the fatigue the Lightning brought from their punishing series against the Islanders, Tampa Bay probably wasn’t upset about entering the second period tied 1-1. It seemed like they had a little more “juice” during the middle frame, as well.
Unfortunately for the Lightning, that didn’t really bother the Stars. Jamie Oleksiak found all sorts of time to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy for his fifth goal of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, continuing an unlikely string of offense. To be fair, this was an impressive snipe by the towering former first-round pick:
Speaking of unlikely strings of offense, Joel Kiviranta also kept his magical run going. The winger got to his own rebound to score his fifth goal of this postseason with less than 30 seconds remaining in the second:
Khudobin shines during third period
You can look at the way the Lightning and Stars played during the third period of Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final in a variety of ways. Down 3-1, were the Lightning merely turning up the pressure? Conversely, could we charge the Stars with sitting on a lead?
Judging by how Anton Khudobin is playing, it’s getting tougher and tougher to blame the Stars if they believe the veteran can steal a period or three.
Khudobin certainly did that here, making some highlight-reel saves and holding the Lightning off the board despite some big late pushes. Both at even-strength and on the power play, the Bolts put a ton of pressure on the Stars.
Ultimately, only that funky 1-1 goal got by Khudobin (35 out of 36 saves). Remarkably, Jason Dickinson‘s empty-netter ended up being the only goal of the third.
After winning Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final vs. the Lightning, the Stars are that much closer to their second championship as a franchise, and Khudobin closes in on a possible Conn Smythe. For all the Lightning have been through, this marks the first time Tampa Bay has trailed in a series during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (DAL leads series 1-0)
Game 1: Stars 4, Lightning 1
Game 2: Monday, Sept. 21, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 3: Wednesday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 4: Friday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
*Game 5: Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.